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Three different cell types of Neurospora crassa deficient in cytochrome oxidase were studied: the nuclear mutant cni-1, the cytoplasmic mutant mi-1 and copper-depleted wild-type cells.

  • 1
    The enzyme-deficient cells have retained a functioning mitochondrial protein synthesis. It accounted for 12–16% of the total protein synthesis of the cell. However, the analysis of mitochondrial translation products by gel electrophoresis revealed that different amounts of individual membrane proteins were synthesized. Especially mutant cni-1 produced large amounts of a small molecular weight translation product, which is barely detectable in wild-type.
  • 2
    Mitochondrial preparations of cytochrome-oxidase-deficient cells were examined for precursors of cytochrome oxidase. The presence of polypeptide components of cytochrome oxidase in the mitochondria was established with specific antibodies. On the other hand, no significant amounts of heme a could be extracted.
  • 3
    Radioactively labelled components of cytochrome oxidase were isolated by immunoprecipitation and analysed by gel electrophoresis. All three cell types contained the enzyme components 4–7, which are translated on cytoplasmic ribosomes. The mitochondrially synthesized components 1–3 were present in mi-1 mutant and in copper-depleted wild-type cells. In contrast, components 2 and 3 were not detectable in the nuclear mutant cni-1. Both relative and absolute amounts of these polypeptides in the enzyme-deficient cells were quite different from those in wild-type cells.
  • 4
    The components of cytochrome oxidase found in the enzyme-deficient cells were tightly associated with the mitochondrial membranes.
  • 5
    Processes, which affect and may control the production of enzyme precursors or their assembly to a functional cytochrome oxidase are discussed.